Create links to the first item of each group in Google Sheets

Imagine you have a Google Sheet tab containing a course worth of hundreds of students sorted into classes or groups. After each exam, quiz or assignment, your teacher for each class needs to enter in the grades.

To make life easier for your teachers, we want to create a summary page where we can click on their class and be navigated directly to their group.

We don’t want to have to manually create a link for each location so we are going to write a formula to do the work for us.

Now, the formula is a little complex. So first off, we will generate our list of classes and add a separate section start link for each one. Then we will combine the two together to generate a single formula that gets all the unique sections and provides a link for each one.

If you are playing along, you can grab a copy of the starter sheet here:

STARTER SHEET

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Google Sheets IMPORTRANGE: Looking up data with the VLOOKUP function

Note! This is part of a series on using IMPORTRANGE in Google Sheets. If you don’t know how to use IMPORTRANGE or what it is, I encourage you to head back to the first tutorial.

When I first sat down to write this tutorial, I had a specific opinion that one approach to using VLOOKUP on IMPORTRANGE data was better than another. However, I wanted to be certain. I ran some basic tests comparing the two approaches to see how they both perform over large data sets, and you know what? I was surprised to find I couldn’t find a discernable difference in performance.

Next, I reached out to some of the other fellow Google Sheets nerds, who like to go way too far with software for all the wrong reasons, and they seemed to feel that those demi-gods of Google devs really understand the wayward predilections of their users and may have benevolently stored the IMPORTRANGE data locally in the sheet you have imported to.

Will we ever know for certain? Only ever perhaps in the lay of the tea leaves or roll of the bones. We can but only guess the ways of the Googler as they traverse the digital world in all their etheral glory.

What does this mean in short? There are two pretty solid ways to use VLOOKUP with IMPORTRANGE. I’ll cover both in this tutorial.

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